What people say
: publicity without semanticity

  • Victor Tamburini

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (PhD)


When a speaker utters a declarative sentence, we may report her speech indirectly: ‘She said that p’. What determines the content reported as what is said (p in ‘she said that p’)? In this dissertation I argue in a novel way against semanticity, the view that what speakers say is linguistically determined. I focus first on demonstrative pronouns (‘this’, ‘that’), showing that attempts to construe their contributions to what is said as determined by a linguistic rule fail. Next I present properties of what is said which seem to support semanticity, notably the publicity of what is said. Publicity is the property of being independent from both the speaker’s intentions and the audience’s actual interpretation. I argue that the publicity of what is said is not best explained by semanticity. I go on to present a non-semantic explanation of the publicity of what is said, which leads me to a general view of the determination of the content of speech acts.
Date of Award4 Dec 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorDerek Nelson Ball (Supervisor) & Jessica Anne Brown (Supervisor)


  • What is said
  • Metasemantics
  • Intentionalism
  • Demonstratives
  • Speech acts

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